The trouble is you’re productivity is not good enough, you need to work harder.
How many times have you heard this? Everywhere politicians, directors and managers are saying you need to increase your productivity. Google “Productivity” and you will find countless “experts” writing on the subject. Admittedly I even follow some of them including my favourite Mike Vardy’s Productivityist.
So how can you improve your productivity without working harder, let’s take a look:
- Try to be lazier
- Consider the Two Sides of Productivity
- How to become lazier yet increase your productivity
Try to be lazier.
“Idleness was seen both as a commodity and as a symbolic capital that defined a noble lifestyle.”
Dr. isabelle Moreau, University College, London. Independent Article (2016).
Now you may not wish to be as idle as the nobility was, but you might like to work less harder than you are at the moment. You may want to spend more time doing the things you desire, and are currently unable to do.
Let us take the first whipping stick of time management habits, prioritising. You must prioritise your work in order to be successful.
In my book “The Myth of Time Management it is the first of the 7 sins of Timelyness, and here’s why.
1. It takes more of your time to administer priorities and more stress deciding which is priority A,B or C or even D. Let alone updating it every day.
2. As devotees of Neuro-linguistic-programming (NLP) will tell you; “You make the best choice you can at the time”. So why spend time worrying about it anyway.
3. Research by a Duke University found that more than 45 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits. (Verplanken and Wood 2006).
In other words, you spend almost half the day on autopilot, so you are unlikely to refer to this list anyway.
Not convinced yet, well see what these well informed sources say.
“ Laziness serves as a filter”
Michael Lewis, author of The Big Short, Moneyball and Flashboys. Independent Article (2017)
You can naturally select your priorities by having filters. Saves you all those that dreaded listing and decision making.
“ I choose a lazy guy to do a hard job because a lazy person will find an easy way of doing it”
Now many writers will tell you this came from Bill Gates. According to Quote Investigator , it probably did not but the concept is based on some research and the phrase has been developed to this modern day version and used by many people.
Research by Florida Gulf Coast University published in the Journal of Health concluded that’
“More intelligent people tend to be a little, well lazier”
So, there is some good evidence that taking a lazier approach to work can be beneficial; let’s apply it to productivity.
Consider the Two Sides of Productivity?
Now the definition of productivity is the effectiveness of productive effort. It is measured by dividing Output by Input.
Take something I am sure you are familiar with, emails. Let us just say you currently sort out 30 emails in 60 minutes so your productivity is 1 emails every 2 minutes, or half an email per minute.
Right, so you want to improve your productivity; there are two approaches.
You work out ways of doing more emails and you manage to do 60 emails in 60 minutes. So brilliant you now doing 1 emails per minute, that is a 100% increase in your email productivity. Give yourself a well deserved pat on the back.
This way you work on reducing your input. You manage to 30 emails in 30 minutes that is 1 email per minute. So brilliant you now doing 1 emails per minute, that is a 100% increase in your email productivity. Give yourself a well deserved pat on the back.
Hang on, I can hear you mumbling, what is the difference, they both increase productivity by 100% and they both amount to 1 email per minute.
You are right of course but the difference is the approach. We all have the tendency when looking at productivity to think of it in terms of increasing output rather than reducing input. It’s the “sin of sloth,” hard work approach versus the lazy persons and Timelyness approach.
I set myself an hour a day to do emails, I then worked at reducing the emails so I could achieve that hour. Now I spend less than an hour a day on average doing my emails. If you focus on increasing your productivity on emails so you can do more, you will get more.
Merlin Mann the creator of Inbox Zero said in a Guardian Article
Becoming hyper-efficient at processing emails mean’t I ended up getting more.
In his book, Peter Senge discussed the Laws of 5th Discipline one of which is
The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back.
Therefore, it makes sense to try and focus on the “Input” aspects of productivity when your are trying to reduce your workload. So let is take the these two issues and apply them to your activities.
How to be lazier yet increase your productivity?
Knowing your capacity is the first step. You know how many pints of beer or glasses of wine you can drink before you get inebriated, but do you know how much work you have the capacity to handle before you hit the panic button.
Then, by developing that 40% of your habitual day to good habits, you will automatically work out your priorities and reduce your decision fatigue.
Finally, you can then apply yourself to making the work you need to do, fit the time you have to do it. This will provide a natural filter to help you decide what your priorities are.
As the cliche goes,
Work Smarter, not harder.
In this case the university study mentioned above, also supported this.
So, get started now increasing your productivity and reducing your workload.
So, in conclusion, how can you be lazy and productive?
- Discover more and get going now download my Capacity Tip 1. It is free and will help you start to appreciate how much time you do have for work.
- Habits stem from routines and we help you identify your own routines and establish some basic ones in the above Tip. You can then practice them to develop good habits
- Next time you think, “productivity,” think reducing time, not increasing output. “Being productive requires more than just a strong work ethic—it calls for taking time out to take care of oneself”. (Work Hard, Play Hard: What Germans Get Right)
The art of making work fit the time you want to give it.
The 21st Century alternative to Time Management